The Translorial Tool Kit
By Jost Zetzsche © 2006 International Writers’ Group, compiled by Yves Avérous
The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season. If you would like to subscribe to The Tool Kit, visit http://www.internationalwriters.com/toolkit and mention Translorial during the subscription process; Jost will put your name in a drawing for one free Tool Box book per edition.
All things Windows
The final version of Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP SP2 was released yesterday. Awhile back I mentioned how much I liked one of the earlier beta versions (and if the words in some of your responses could have killed, I would not be among the living today …). But then I realized that there were a number of bugs in the program which made it prohibitive to use, so I had to get rid of it. I installed the latest version yesterday. And while the most annoying bug is fixed (it was not possible to display HTML help systems correctly with the earlier version), it turns out that the new version of IE is not compatible with a couple of programs that I use, including the one that I use to send out this newsletter, so I once again had to uninstall it. Oh, well…
Of course, similar problems will also occur when the new Windows Vista is made available commercially. If you want to have a look at how your computer will perform (or, more likely: not perform) with the new Windows system, you can download the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor under www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/upgradeadvisor/default.mspx. This will present you with a list of problems you will encounter after an upgrade to Vista. Though this list will certainly not be complete, it will quickly show you that you most likely will be better off waiting with an upgrade to Vista until it’s time to upgrade your whole computer.
I was at the last Localization World in beautiful Montreal, and on the tool front it was very encouraging to see that the developers are eagerly pressing for new and better Translation Environment Tool solutions:
► Multitrans (see www.multicorpora.com ) finally introduced its XLIFF editor with its newly presented version 4.2. This allows for translation of tagged files (HTML, XML, and InDesign CS2). The lack of support was a sorely needed feature in this tool and it is great to see that they have gone about it the XLIFF way (for a definition of XLIFF, see http://developers.sun.com/dev/gadc/technicalpublications/articles/xliff.html).
► Terminotix unveiled its new AlignFactory tool (see www.terminotix.com that specializes in rapidly aligning files to produce translation memories which can then be used with most other TE tools. The product is so new that there is not even any pricing available, but once they send me a copy of the program, I will certainly report on it.
► Clear-CAT (see www.lc-t.com/ProductSpecifics.cfm ), another new tool that I was not familiar with, exhibited at Localization World as well. What distinguishes this interesting new application is that it combines the abilities of traditional localization tools (Passolo, Catalyst, etc.) with traditional translation environment tools (Transit, Trados, etc.) and is built on a client-server architecture, allowing the simultaneous access to online translation memories. They also promised to send a copy of their software and I will make sure to report on that as well.
► SDL has released its long-announced Synergy product (http://www.sdl.com/products-home/products-home/products-sdl-trados-synergy-2006.htm). Synergy is a project management solution that I find reminiscent of a mixture between Trados Team Works and Trados Workspace of a few years ago. It essentially helps translation buyers and translation agencies to streamline and automate some of the Trados-related processes.
► Across (the company) has finally decided to not just focus on the German market but expand. It has opened an office in Los Angeles, exhibited in Montreal. I am very happy to see this since I have always felt that this tool could be a real contender beyond Germany. The same is true for Wordfast, by the way. Yves Champollion has apparently decided to be a little more aggressive in his marketing efforts.
By default, Word opens a new blank document when you open the program. Sometimes this is helpful, but often it is not. To avoid this, right-click on the icon that you use to open Word with, select Properties, and add “/n” to the Target line. Now Word will open without a blank document. This is especially helpful when you need to open a document that is not configured to be opened in Word. Instead of having to go through the rather tedious process of File > Open, etc., you can now simply drag the document from Windows Explorer into Word, where it will open automatically. (In case your icon does not allow you to enter that information, you can delete the shortcut, create a new one by going to the location in which Word is installed, typically C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICEXX, right-click on Word.exe, select Create Shortcut, and drag that little shortcut to the place that you start Word from.)
Or how about this one: Excel XP and Excel 2003 provide a helpful integration into Internet Explorer (one of the few reasons I use Internet Explorer). If you have these versions of Excel installed, you can right-click on any web page that contains a table (most web pages do) and select Export to Microsoft Excel from the shortcut menu. The text of this web page will automatically be copied into a newly created Excel spreadsheet. This is awesome for quick copy access to some online glossaries.
As we all know, the value of translation has come to the attention of many organizations that have long treated it rather poorly. One such organization is the U.S. government which, among many other things, has established the Foreign Language Resource Center. On its website at http://flrc.mitre.org/ you can find a number of interesting resources, including a list of translation-related standards; preconfigured keyboards for languages such as Urdu, Tagalog, Pashto, or Kurdish; a FAQ section related to Arabic-based languages; and some interesting links to machine translation tools. They also develop productivity software for translators—mostly to study how translators work most efficiently— and then release the code for that software to the public.
A recent email from Larry Schofer reminded me that backing up would indeed be a good topic to mention. Here’s what Larry said: “The most valuable part of a computer-aided translation tool is the memory or set of memories. I would bet that most people forget about backing them up.” And I bet he’s right. Looking at this purely from the point of view of a translator, what is the most important data on the computer? I would suggest five different things: your current project(s), your email, your accounting data, your translation memory(s), and your terminology database(s). If you are able to save that data from being lost in a computer crash, you should be able to get going again in a fairly short amount of time.
Here’s what I have been doing recently to save my data (and, again, I realize that there are many other good ways of doing the same thing). I use Acronis True Image (http://www.acronis.com/) to make a nightly backup of my complete hard drive to an external hard drive that I have here in my office. Since this would not prevent data loss in the case of fire or something similar (a tsunami is probably more likely here on the Oregon coast – the first thing my kids learn at the beginning of each school year is their tsunami drill…), at the end of each week I also burn my TMs and terminology databases as well as my email to a CD that I keep in the beloved old car.
More QA Tools
One thing that continues to impress me is the variety and the size of the software industry that specifically serves the language industry. It makes me feel all nice and fuzzy because it shows that—at least on that level—we are being taken seriously!
Another tool that was just brought to my attention is the FormatCheckers for Word and FrameMaker from Star (see www.star-group.net/eng/software/formatchecker.html). It’s a tool that checks about 50 different potential errors in Word or FrameMaker documents, ranging from typographical errors to duplicated spaces, paragraph marks, manual references, and many others. Much like Acrocheck that I mentioned in a previous newsletter, the intention is to create well-formed documents before the translation even starts, thus hoping for a better return on translation memory matches and/or entering better data into the translation memory. It’s a tool that is certainly not as comprehensive as Acrocheck, but it also has a much lower price tag of 149 euros (Word) and 249 euros (FrameMaker).